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Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Should the home seller stay home for showings or get out of the way?

Dear Glen,

We listed our house with a Realtor a few days ago and we have a dilemma. When another agent wants to show our house, are supposed to leave or should we stick around? Our agent says it’s our choice, but she tends to tell us what we want to hear so we need an honest opinion. Can you help?

Thanks,

Curious in Canton


Dear Curious,

This is exciting. You are on the market and you are getting appointments to show the house! This is a great sign that you will be planting that sold sign sooner than later. As you know, overpriced homes tend to not get too many showings so kudos to you! Now, on to your question…

This has been a source of debate for years. Like all good debates, there are points to be scored on both sides.

Before we get started, let me remind you that it’s your house and since this is ‘Merica, you are legally free to stay and hang out in your house anytime–no matter what another agent may say. OK–now that we have that out of the way, let’s begin…

On the “Stay” side of the debate:

  • You get to meet the buyers and agent to make sure they aren’t nefarious robbers hoping to steal all your limited edition “Dancing With The Stars” bobble heads.
  • You don’t have to leave and wonder whether or not they ever showed up at all. Same for the “running late” buyers who end up having you drive around the block for two hours waiting for them to show up.
  • Unless you’re a genuine jackass, meeting the buyers face to face is a great way to connect. This connection actually could make the difference. Meeting the sellers helps buyers associate the house with a person instead of just an address. Very powerful stuff…
  • Furthermore, (insert jackass disclaimer here) I’ve had buyers walk away from a showing talking about the people more than the house. Buyers feel if you are good people somehow they can trust you more and therefore your house immediately becomes more appealing. It makes no logical sense, but hey–evidently that’s how humans work.
  • You get to answer any questions the buyers may have about the property or the neighborhood–things the buyer agent may not know.
  • You may find out you and the buyers know each other or have a mutual friend. Granted…this could be a reason to go depending on your relationship with that person, but generally when the buyers know you it’s better for the rest of the process.
  • You can get instant feedback. Before the buyers leave, you can always ask if they have any questions or use a causal “Should we start packing?” to find out the buyer’s impressions. It doesn’t mean you will like the feedback or that it will be genuine, but it’s worth a shot.
  • It’s possible to get an informal offer such as “Would you take $XXXXXX for the place?” Perhaps you may pick up some buying signals like “Would you be willing to throw in the dining room table?”. At this point you can answer and maybe hammer out the major parts of the contract right there. I’ve seen it more times than I can count.
  • It’s harder for buyers to see you as the enemy during negotiations if they’ve actually met you and talked with you. Even more valuable is if they like you. Never underestimate the power of human connection and the accompanying emotions.

On the “Go” side of the debate:

  • Buyers may feel uncomfortable with you there which could lead to a shorter, less positive showing.
  • You may appear desperate and that’s not good for negotiating. It also makes people wonder why you are so anxious to sell.
  • Buyers can’t really discuss the house candidly if you are there. You’ll know because there will be more looks between them, more whispering and huddling. Bad signs.
  • Buyers may feel like they are actually intruding and will rush the showing. Nothing puts off a buyer like feeling the’ve interrupted dinner or your favorite TV show. They will end up rushing and not buying. If you stay, be scarce and kill the TV.
  • If the buyer is uncomfortable, they are less likely to connect with the house and see it as their home. We need them to imagine living there–hard to do with you and the fam standing acting all “at home.”
  • The agent may react poorly to you being there. I know–you don’t really care what their agent thinks, but that agent has a lot of influence so putting them off is generally not good for you.
  • Your dislike of their agent could show. Maybe you have history with that agent or maybe they are just not a nice person. If this is the case, you will have trouble hiding it from the buyers. While you may not like their agent or vice versa, the buyers can never know this. Like it or not, the buyer has placed their trust in this agent and they can and will influence that buyer towards another house if you show your hand too obviously.
  • You get to go do something fun like get some ice cream or TP your coworkers house.
  • SPECIAL NOTE: If you have animals or small children – leaving is probably the right thing to do since animals and children are notoriously unpredictable. Nothing like Fido leg-humping your prospective buyer to make an impression.

In the end I would recommend you stick around long enough to meet the buyers and get a quick feel for them. Hand them a flyer for the house with your name and phone number/email address printed on it. Explain that if they have any questions they or their agent can reach out and you will be happy to answer. Give them any instructions for shutting up the house when they leave. (Lights out, lock door, text you, whatever).

Be polite. Be brief. Then be gone.

Give the buyers some space and let them roam your house without you lurking. If for any reason you can’t leave, the same applies. Greet them at the door, answer any questions and then get lost as best you can. Pretend they are relatives you don’t like–as they move around the house, you move to avoid them!

In the end, it’s really a compromise. Chemistry between buyer and seller is unpredictable. If there is an agent with the buyers, it’s best to stay out of their way and let them do what they do. If the house is a good fit and priced right, it won’t really matter what you do or don’t do. As we like to say, the market never lies–not ever.

For more on pricing your house, check out this post : “If your house is not selling, it’s overpriced.”

Best of luck selling your home and my best advice besides pricing it right and making sure everyone knows about it is…relax. Getting wound up about it won’t do anything good for you. What will be will be and obsessing over minute details will not make it any easier.

Keep the questions coming and I’ll do my best to answer them all as quickly as possible. Ask me your questions here any time. I read and reply to every email so don’t be afraid to ask me anything. 

Take care, 

P.S. Still looking for more info? Be sure to sign up for my newsletter below, not only will I keep you up to date on everything you need to know about real estate but I’ll send you a freebie just for signing up!


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